Cricket: Watling out to make up for lost time

By David Leggat in Cape Town

BJ Watling will bat No 6 at Cape Town against a tough South African attack. Photo / Getty Images
BJ Watling will bat No 6 at Cape Town against a tough South African attack. Photo / Getty Images

BJ Watling is eager to make up for lost time, and make the most of his second tenure as New Zealand's test wicketkeeper.

The first one was just about as brief as it could get, lasting one game, which produced a maiden century against Zimbabwe in Napier last January.

It ended with a hip injury the day before the opening test against South Africa in Dunedin last summer. He'd been a specialist batsman for his first seven tests, beginning with an unbeaten half century on debut against Pakistan in Napier in December 2009.

After the bone inflammation injury, Watling then had to go through a period of rehabilitation and watch another South African-born gloveman, Kruger van Wyk, get his opportunity.

Van Wyk's time ended with his omission for this tour, after nine successive tests, and Watling is back and determined to make it count.

He acknowledged the personal significance of playing against South Africa at Newlands, starting on Wednesday. But made it clear, having been born in Durban but leaving with his family at 10, he's 100 percent Kiwi now.

''Coming back here is exciting. But I've spent the last 17 years in New Zealand and it's definitely feels it's my home," he said.

He reckons he's ''reasonably happy" with his glovework and is in good form with the bat, and has a test average of 30.

Watling has made good ODI runs for New Zealand recently, and will bat No 6 at Cape Town against a tough South African attack.

Having missed the T20 series which started the tour, Watling got some game time in domestic cricket for Northern Districts shortly before Christmas. He's clear on his job specifications.

''I've got to score runs and do the job with the gloves. I didn't get as many runs back home as I'd have liked, so I'm just chipping away and trying to find a few key areas for me to work on. But I'm feeling reasonably confident."

Not only do the two tests coming up represent a terrific challenge for New Zealand, who sit a lowly No 8 in test rankings to South Africa's No 1, but ''it's a great opportunity for us to stamp our mark".

''We know South Africa have got a whole bunch of guys in the top 10 batting and bowling. But we've got to look at it as an opportunity to come and show what we've got.
''We have to try to put them under the pump, sustain pressure for long periods and not be too daunted by the prospect of playing them."

After all, he added, ''this is why you play cricket. You want to test yourself against the best".

- NZ Herald

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